Writings by Dr. John C. Rao

The Fight for the Traditional Mass: Vocal, Varied & Coordinated

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has made numerous comments, both in public and in private, indicating his openness to the concerns of Catholics committed to the Traditional Roman Rite of Mass. Church modernizers, badly divided as they may be over many other issues, will most certainly remain firmly unified in efforts to prevent papal action redressing traditionalist grievances regarding the liturgy. Those among them of more moderate temperament will counsel traditionalists to keep their silence in this springtime of the new pontificate and simply wait patiently for something good to happen. Meanwhile, their more ferocious colleagues will work harder than ever, openly and behind the scenes, to ensure that liturgical disaster continues unabated. They will do so directly, by pursuing the logic of destructive "reform", and indirectly, by seeking to divert papal attention to other matters, including an intensification and expansion of the ecumenical movement. If my judgment on this situation is correct, I would urge the following course of action upon all traditionalists loyal to the See of Peter:

An ever more vocal and extensive presentation of our demand for the Traditional Mass. This should be expressed in a manner that is friendly to the Holy Father, given his expressions of friendliness to us. Nevertheless, it should be thunderous and unambiguous, and stress our unshakeable conviction that the loss of the Traditional Mass has been an unmitigated calamity for the Church and for the cause of civilization as a whole. Moreover, our critique should be addressed to all the relevant Roman authorities, including those which continuously complain that their hands are tied and that they can do nothing on our behalf. Let them feel as though they must find a way to cut through the cords that bind them. Our opponents never tire of such activities. Our silence now, at this opportune moment, will merely be construed as consent to our further humiliation. I would begin vocal action by December, after we have judged the results of possible curial changes in November;

A truly serious, organized campaign of round-the-clock public prayer and procession begging God for justice for the Traditional Mass. At best, this would be done in Rome as well, and in such a way that it comes to the attention of the Holy Father himself;

Admission of the reality of our manifold differences as Traditionalists, and agreement to a temporary, strategically-valuable end to criticism of the varied methods adopted by each segment of the Traditionalist camp in its labors for the Liturgy. Our enemies will work in this fashion in their common effort to defeat the cause of the Traditional Mass. We should imitate them. Let those with a diplomatic temperament be diplomats, and those with a taste and a talent for polemics polemicise; let anyone working with the Indult work with the Indult; let the Society of Pius X pursue its goals and negotiate with Rome as it itself sees fit. Allow each to advance along its own favored line of march and leave the rest to Providence. If possible, this policy of "no enemies on the Rite" might even advance from a strategy of mutual toleration to one involving regular, mutual consultation for the sake of the cause of final liturgical victory; to the creation of a kind of Traditionalist League, whose leaders remains in close contact with one another.

Everything that I have said is predicated upon a peculiar moment in time and the personal statements and personality of the new pontiff. Changed conditions could, admittedly, require changed tactics. For now, let us approach a friendly pontiff in a friendly way, let our voice be heard more vigorously than ever before, and let our various comrades go about their diversely-organized hunts for liturgical justice without reproach from us.

Email Dr. John Rao.

Return to main page.